Published: February 4th, 1982
Publication: The New York Times
By Michael Oreskes
The chief witness in the investigation of corruption charges against Raymond J. Donovan, the United States Secretary of Labor, refused yesterday to take a lie-detector test.
He said he would not do so unless the special prosecutor in the case first promised to ask a wide range of questions about purported illegal activities by both Mr. Donovan and the construction company he had served as executive vice president. The witness, Mario Montuoro, a former secre tary-treasurer of Local 29 of the Laborers International Union, which represents blasters, said that the special prosecutor, Leon Silver man, had refused to makesuch a commitment.
Scope of Inquiry Debated
Mr. Silverman, who was apppointed Dec. 29 to conduct the investigation, said he would have no comment. The dispute drew attention to a behind-the-scenes debate over how broad an investigation Mr. Silverman intends to conduct. Mr. Montuoro and his attorney, Arthur Z. Schwartz, have expressed concern that Mr. Silverman would focus only on specific allegations of wrongdoing by Mr. Donovan.
They have also voiced doubts about his pursuing what they say is a pattern of criminal acts committed by the Schiavone Construction Company at a time when Mr. Donovan was one of its top executives.
Mr. Montuoro has said that Mr. Donovan was present at a luncheon in a Queens restuarant when another Schiavone executive passed an envelope containing $2,000 in cash to the president of the blasters’ local.
In addition, the witness, who completed a third day of testimony before a special grand jury yesterday, has charged that Schiavone gave gifts of trucks and building materials to union officials and arranged no-show jobs for their benefit.
Mr. Donovan has denied the allegations and called Mr. Montuoro ”a damnable, contemptible liar.” In the last week, Mr. Donovan has twice canceled scheduled appearances before a Senate labor subcommittee that is holding hearings on proposed revisions in the labor racketering laws. A White House official was quoted as saying that the Administration was concerned that Mr. Donovan would be questioned on the allegations against him.